Some kids naturally show gratitude and are content with little. Others crave more and more and more stuff. I think a child’s attitude is highly dependent on their upbringing and their parents’ attitude toward stuff. But that’s another post.
I woke up this morning thinking about Thanksgiving, since it’s tomorrow. Are my kids grateful for what they have? Do they appreciate how much they have? Will they be grateful for the presents or lack of presents they receive for Christmas about 34 more days?
We want our kids to be thankful. We want to be thankful too. It’s just way too easy to grumble, complain, envy and wish for more stuff, money, clothes, etc. Several tools teach our kids to show gratitude every day of the year.
1. A gratitude journal is an effective tool for teaching kids (and ourselves) to be thankful. In a simple notebook, write one word or a sentence that describes something you’re thankful for. Try to write something every day. In addition to teaching gratitude, this journal is a great tool for teaching handwriting and spelling.
2. Learn about other cultures. Billions of people live well below what we in the U.S. consider poverty level. It helps sometimes to have a reminder of how little other people have. Watch age-appropriate documentaries, read picture books or research countries together, and teach your kids about all the blessings they have, even if they’re have to wear secondhand clothes, don’t have the latest tech gadgets or can’t buy every toy they want.
3. Support a child through Compassion International or a similar organization. Your children receive a picture of the child they are sponsoring and letters throughout the year. The program gives your children insight into how fortunate they are, and it emphasizes the blessings of having access to education, food and other resources that are easy to take for granted.
4 Raise money for a good cause. Hold yard sales, bake sales or Craigslist sales to raise money for a charity. Consider donating to a teen pregnancy center (baby supplies are appreciated), Operation Christmas Child (pack a shoebox for kids of all ages), Toys For Tots, Coats for Kids or a food bank. When your kids help raise the money, they’re personally involved in sharing their wealth with others and in making the holiday brighter for others.
5. Focus on serving others. The holidays are a great time to donate to charity or participate in a community service project. When your kids buy gifts for other kids, help prepare a meal for a neighbor or serve hot chocolate at a community event, they learn to appreciate what they have–a home, toys, a tree, family and other blessings.
6. Give stuff away. The holidays are a perfect time for your kids to purge their toys, books and clothing. Outgrown items can find a good home at a children’s hospital, family shelter or thrift store. When your kids help sort and take their outgrown and unwanted items to a donation center, they take part in making the world a better place for everyone (and as a bonus, your home has less clutter and is easier to clean).
Teaching kids to be thankful is something we can do every day. What are you favorite techniques for teaching your children to be thankful? May we as parents learn along with them.